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The Grinch is alive and well and will be handing out green M&M's Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at 710 Highland Park Drive. The man behind the mask is local orchestra teacher Kirk Easter who became fascinated with the Grinch at a young age.

In Whoville, the Grinch stole Christmas, but in Missoula's South Hills, he purchased 120 pounds of M&Ms – green ones straight from the factory – to share with children.

This year, Kirk Easter continues his tradition of dressing up as the green holiday curmudgeon and handing out candy to the littlest munchkins, anyone who stands "no taller than the Grinch's belt."

And the munchkins and their parents can't wait.

"I've had people knocking on my door asking when the Grinch is going to be in the driveway," Easter said.

Easter, who believes his obsession with the Grinch began as a child watching "The Lawrence Welk Show," said he'll be on the job from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 710 Highland Park Drive in the South Hills.

If you're driving in the neighborhood, watch for illuminated penguins and Cindy Lou Who.

As a child, Easter knew that when the Grinch showed up on television, he had better head to bed or Santa Claus would skip his house.

"That left an indelible mark on my psyche. You've got to get yourself in gear and go to bed and make sure you're ready to roll in the morning," Easter said.

In his real life, Easter's soul probably is full of more funk than Grinch, as he teaches orchestra at Washington Middle School.

In his Grinch life, he has started to appear in the holiday portraits of Missoula families because they head up to the South Hills to take photos with him. This year, his own little girl turned 8, and she figured out the Grinch was her father.

"So now, she's Cindy Lou Who and hands out the treats with me," Easter said.

In 2012, the Grinch handed out 1,800 treats, and roughly 120 pounds of M&Ms. He includes a "nasty wasty" treat for the tots as well.

"There's a poem that goes with them about Santa scaring the poop out of the Grinch. So there's the poop in the bag," Easter said.

The production, with candy and power bills and treats for the neighbors who help him pack baggies, costs at least $2,000 a year. He runs the holiday lights and decorations for five hours a night starting the night after Thanksgiving.

Sometimes, the teensy children are apprehensive about meeting the Grinch. Then, he said, they see him open up his arms and say, "Come on over."

"I can't tell you how many hugs I get. It's just amazing," Easter said.

Last year, his father was dying of pancreatic cancer, so he played Grinch for just one night. This year, he's ready to get back into the full swing of spreading as much Christmas cheer as possible. 

"I'm not sure how many years I'm going to go, but this is for sure an exciting thing for the kids and for the families," Easter said.

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University of Montana, higher education